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Broken Faith

Why Hope Matters


Edited By Patrick Claffey, Joe Egan and Marie Keenan

This book is a theological reflection on the broken state of faith within the Catholic Church in Ireland following more than two decades of revelations about institutional and child sexual abuse and the Church’s now acknowledged failure to respond to the abuse in an appropriate way. The result has been broken lives, broken faith and a broken church.
While the book has a theological purpose, it employs a see–judge–act methodology in attempting to come to terms with a very complex problem. Following a broad introduction, the first section sets out to listen to the voices of the victims. The second section consists of an interdisciplinary academic analysis, with significant input from psychology and also from history and social studies. The final section of the book engages in theology, seeking to place us in a Kairos moment that might allow us to look beyond our broken faith. This, however, requires an analysis of the theological misunderstandings that led to the aberration of clericalism, the resulting abuse of power and the wider malaise within the Church. St Paul is suggested as a «mentor», as we seek to restore trust and rebuild the Church in a radically new way. The book ultimately seeks a renewal of our broken faith, searching for trajectories towards healing and wholeness, truth and reconciliation.


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Patrick McCafferty “A Cry from the Depths”


: Entering into the Mystery of Christ Forsaken As I began to engage with my contribution to this work, there immediately sprang to mind a mysterious term found in Scripture in the prophecies of Daniel and referred to by Our Lord in the Synoptic Gospels: “the abomina- tion of desolation,” or “the sacrilege that makes desolate” (Dan 9:27, 11:31 and 12:11; Mt 24:15–16, Mk 13:14 and Lk 21:20–21). It is a useful phrase for encapsulating what I will attempt to express, though no one quite knows of what exactly “the abomination of desola- tion” consisted. We can, perhaps, say that it was the worst imaginable thing – the ultimate horror – the blasphemy of all blasphemies. The exact composition of this desolating sacrilege is not necessarily important. For our purposes today, its description as “making desolate” and what Jesus says of it, in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, as “standing where it ought not to be,” are key. My subject is “Broken Faith: A Cry from the Depths.” From what depths do I cry? From the depths of my own life, as someone who suf fered sexual abuse in childhood perpetrated by a female babysitter and a male neighbour, and later when I was in the early years of seminary studies for the priesthood, further sexual trauma and abuse inf licted by a priest of my home diocese of Down and Connor. From those depths, yes, but also from the depths of the Church,...

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